Irina Sidorkova Interview
I chatted with the 2021 W Series and SMP Racing Junior driver recently about her busy year ahead, F3 Asia, how she got into racing and much more.
Irina Sidorkova has managed to pack a lot into her motor racing career so far. At 17 years old, she has recently competed in her first season of F3 Asia but has also raced in Spanish Formula 4, the SMP F4 Championship and has raced in two seasons of the Russian Circuit Racing Series, which she won overall in 2018. Irina is also set to make one of her dreams come true this year as she joins the 2021 grid for W Series in June. I spoke with Irina recently about how she got into racing in the first place, what her ambitions for the future are and much more. I hope you enjoy our conversation...
Eight rounds of the all female racing series will take place next year.
What first attracted you to motorsport?
My interest in motorsport began a long time ago and quite unusually. One day my family and me went to the premiere of the cartoon “Cars”.
Watching this cartoon, I said that I want to do racing. I have started to collect toy and model cars, and a little later I saw the advertisement of the go-kart track on TV and I persuaded my Dad to go there to drive. We arrived, went for a drive, and then the coach came up to us and said that we should try to train. It was 2009, I was 6 years old. That is how it all started.
Can you describe how it felt going racing for the first time?
I had waited too long for that moment when I first found myself in kart, so, I was overloaded with emotions. And the reality corresponded to my expectations. It was the fastest I had tried by that (it was my first go-kart experience) and I think I felt like a Formula 1 driver!
You've competed in rallying in the past – is this an area of motorsport you’d like to get back into one day?
In rallying I did some tests but never competed. I did a lot of winter circuit and rally-cross events. As for Rallying, I do think it is a great motorsport discipline but today I’d like to compete with other drivers on the track, wheel to wheel rather than only with the roads and time. But who knows, maybe one day I’ll try myself in rally, it’s really quite fun.
Do you have a dream about what you want to achieve in motorsport, e.g. making it into Formula 1, winning a specific Championship?
I want to become the World Champion. I see it clear and in what championship it happens is not so important (though I am sure that it has to be in touch with circuit racing).
How was it racing in Asian Formula 3 recently?
It was difficult. I had only one season in open wheels and that season was 1.5 years ago – it was Spanish Formula 4 and SMP Formula 4 in 2019. Besides, I had no tests in Formula 3, so I had to start from scratch, as they say. And as you understand it is extremely difficult when you have to drive the fastest car in your life so far.
Besides, the F3 regional car that I used in F3 Asian Championship is one of the most difficult cars to steer. The steering wheel is very close to you and there is no power steering. So it is extremely physically hard to steer that car. I knew that before and spent many hours in gym preparing for F3 Asian Championship after my touring cars racing in 2020 (where you can steer with one hand). But it was obviously not enough. So after first three races I almost didn’t feel my shoulders and hands.
Today's edition takes a look at a fan favourite and driver to watch in the next season of W-Series.
Then they got used to the loads but another problem appeared. I damaged my hand in race 6. The doctors said no fracture but 10 days with the hand immobilized. So I missed one race weekend but I could not afford to miss any more. And I had to drive on the 5th day after the incident. I felt some pain and discomfort, but you don’t pay much attention to that when you are in the race. You just forget about it!
At the end, I can tell you that I learned a lot after five rounds of F3 Asian Championship. And first of all, I’m talking about the F3 car. Now I know it quite well and could correct my training to prepare for the W Series season much better.
You're going to be racing in W Series this year, how much are you looking forward to it and what made you want to race in this series?
I dream about it! I’ll compete with the fastest girls in the world on the same tracks and at the same time as Formula 1 doing. Sounds like your childhood dreams come true, don’t you think? I wanted to get in from the very first day I heard about W Series. And then SMP Racing helped me to make it true. They helped me to get experience in the open wheels (I participated in two Formula 4 series in 2019) to understand what it is and then to get through the tests and be selected by W Series. W Series gives you chances to race fast open-wheel cars at the best worldwide tracks. I don’t think I would get that chance without W Series so fast.
Do you feel more pressure as a female driver in the world of motorsport or do you relish the challenge that this brings in a male dominated sport?
It is a hard question. On one hand, you do have more pressure, you have to work more (e. g. physically boys are stronger just by nature), race tracks and their infrastructure are designed by men and for men without taking into consideration special female needs. But on the other hand, being a girl gives you more attraction of mass media and some other opportunities. I would say it is not the matter of your sex but the matter of your attitude towards your passion!
What’s your favourite racetrack in the world and why?
Frankly speaking I cannot say. I haven’t been to almost any of them (only Paul Ricard in France). So, I cannot say anything. If we speak about virtual racing, then I love Brands Hatch and Monza.
What’s your dream car?
The one I am racing now!
Do you have a favourite racing driver/role model in motorsport?
Yes, it is Danica Patrick and for a very long time.
What’s your favourite moment from racing so far?
Very hard to say. Every time you get to a higher class of racing and get some results you think: “This is it!”.
Let’s say, so far it is my win in the race of the Touring 1600 class in the SMP Russian Circuit Racing Series in 2020. It was a hard one for me! W Series championship was cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic and I found an opportunity to race in this championship just a couple of days before it started. The car was not fully ready and competitive from the technical point of view right away. So I had poor results the first 5 weekends. But after the third weekend I said to my team that if we get to the round 6 with the car that has no technical problems, I can win it.
They were surprised since it seemed absolutely impossible after our race speed at the first 5 weekends. But I was sure of that since I knew that the last two tracks of the championship would be very curvy and no long straight where we lost a lot. So I won that race in Nizhny Novgorod, and I can say, it was absolutely unexpected for everyone except me. And in the next one, in Grozny, I was on the podium again. So this feeling when you prove to yourself and others that you know what to do is really very special.
Already an established contender and Champion, she's only just getting started.
With a lot of experience already under her belt in a relatively short period of time, Irina is certainly going to be a driver to keep an eye on in W Series this year - and beyond. It's awesome to see another young woman rising up through the ranks of motorsport and getting the chance to prove herself, especially on the same weekends that Formula 1 takes place. Her passion for racing is obvious - and I'm sure the people over at Pixar who made "Cars" will be very happy that their film inspired a young woman to get into motor racing!
What did you think of the interview with Irina? Will you be routing for her when W Series starts in June? Let me know in the comments below.